Ten Minutes On Green with Audi's Johan de Nysschen

Rex Roy
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On Fuels
"The R10 and R15 race cars use diesel fuel (GTL) produced by Shell from natural gas," de Nysschen said. "The U.S. has a huge capacity for natural gas that could be exploited for producing clean diesel fuel that would help with energy independence.

"But there are some problems here, one being that it's been a very long time since the U.S. has built a new refinery. There will need to be some more capacity added at some point because demand will grow."

On Energy Policy
"It wouldn't be a bad thing for the U.S. to use less energy overall, but because energy is relatively inexpensive due to the country's energy policy, there is no economic incentive for U.S. consumers to cut back.

"As part of this moving forward in the U.S., nuclear power must be looked at to supply additional electricity that will come along with electric cars. The power has to come from somewhere. Also, if the U.S. wants to support energy independence, they should not tax diesel fuel more than gasoline. It just doesn't make sense."

On Society
"We all want a greener world, and there will be no single technology that represents the only way forward. It will be many technologies that take us into the future. People must realize that you can't go from the ox wagon to the space shuttle in one step. It just can't be done. We can't just jump to all electric or all fuel cell vehicles.

"We think that diesel is a good step that makes use of many existing technologies and resources. People need to accept a compromise that balances green efforts with the reality of society. Environmentalists want everything now, but I will tell you that these desires must be weighed against how the larger society makes progress, and it is not that fast. We need to see change because everybody wants to move toward a better world. But the changes need to be made at an affordable cost or else nobody will be very happy."

On Winning
Audi's all-new R15 TDI Sports Prototype racers won the 2009 12 Hours of Sebring just a few hours after our conversation. Surrounded by happy colleagues and jubilant drivers, we caught de Nysschen during the pit lane celebrations. He flashed a smile and said, "It's been a very good day." Indeed.

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